Russia continues to attack the Azovstal plant in besieged Mariupol, despite the Kremlin leader's order to "stop the assault," adviser to the head of the President's Office Mykhailo Podolyak has said.
Podolyak offered the aggressor country a three-step plan to resolve the situation in the strategic Donbas city.
He said the invaders are dropping heavy bombs on civilians and Ukrainian servicemen, firing artillery and building up forces and equipment for an assault. Podolyak suggested that Russia "consider the remnants of its reputation," for which only three "Mariupol steps" would be of help:
- Announce a genuine Easter truce near Mariupol;
- Immediately provide a humanitarian corridor for civilians;
- Agree on a "special round of negotiations" to extract / exchange troops.
Earlier, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the talks with Russia, David Arakhamia, confirmed that he and Podolyak were ready to go to Mariupol to hold talks with the Russian side on the evacuation of the city's defenders and civilians.
On April 21, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ordered his defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, to “cancel” the assault on Azovstal, saying it was “inexpedient.” Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that eliminating Ukrainian troops in the city would put an end to peace talks with Moscow.
On April 22, Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said that Russia had not given up plans for storming the Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol, as well as plans to involve the Rosgvardia national guard and the FSB intelligence agency in a further offensive.
Mariupol has been besieged by invading Russian forces for almost two months. The invading troops are systematically shelling the city's civilian infrastructure. According to preliminary estimates, between 5,000 and 20,000 people have already died there.
The Russians are also covering up the traces of their atrocities and crimes, and burning the bodies of civilians in mobile crematoria.
There are still about 120,000 civilians left in the city who cannot leave due to the actions of the Russian army. The invaders continue shelling even after agreements on humanitarian corridors are supposedly reached, and they continue to block the delivery of aid to citizens. Some Mariupol residents are forcibly deported to the territory of the occupied Donetsk Oblast and the Russian Federation.
Soldiers of the Azov Regiment, Ukrainian Marines and motorized riflemen continue to defend Mariupol. At present, they are trapped on the territory of the Azovstal plant.
In addition to the Ukrainian military, there are residents of the city, including women and children who have sought shelter from Russian shelling in the underground tunnels and bunkers of the steelworks.